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Yuan Shan (right) with Pan-China delegates on Phuket for talks

Phuket Light Rail Boost from Fast-Track China Group

Sunday, August 29, 2010
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PHUKET has the highly-skilled Pan-China Construction Group pushing a plan for speedy introduction of a light-rail airport-Phuket City link - and a host of developments of other kinds.

The appearance of Pan-China executives at a meeting with the Governor of Phuket on Saturday marks a huge step towards Phuket's speedy infrastructure development.

China is literally fast-tracking South-east Asia. Heading the four-man delegation was Yuan Shan, Director of the Planning Design Institute, China Urban Development Strategy Research Centre, and General Manager-Chief Architect, Pan-China Construction Group, GuangDong branch.

''We want to invest in the airport link first,'' he said. ''Then there are prospects for rapid economic development in other aspects of the island's growth. Phuket needs good public transport as it expands to an island city.

''Keep the environment beautiful, keep your local culture, and we can help with the strategic planning. Phuket is a well-known brand, but it does not have public transport and infrastructure in place, ready for speedy development.''

Phuket's future as a tourism and business centre hinges on infrastructure to match the speed of development, he said. ''Phuket so far has not found the money for the airport-Phuket City link, so we believe we can help to make the project pay for itself. Benefits will flow to us, and the local people. I am sure we can help Phuket achieve its goals.''

A group of senior Phuket tourism industry leaders greeted the Pan-China delegation. Methee Tanmanatragul, past president of the southern branch of the Thai Hotels Association, spoke of the need for wise urban development within a natural environment.

Phuket needed integrated megaprojects, he said, but with emphasis on parks, education, marinas and high technology. ''Phuket is a tourist centre and international, and we welcome thoughtful investment,'' he said.

The secretary general of the Phuket Chamber of Commerce, Dr Sirichai Silpa-Ar-Cha, said that with the regular changes in governors, there was a concern that projects of this scale really needed to be overseen by a ''Board of Investment Phuket.''

Phuket Governor Wichai Praisa-ngob said that he would set up a structure for big-picture development on Phuket within weeks, before his retirement at the end of September. That group would supply a continuing Phuket connection with Pan-China and other potential investors.

Another group from China is to meet the governor on September 10.

The Pan-China group joked that with a Chinese approach to engineering and Chinese manpower, the long-planned tunnel through Patong Hill could be started and finished in three days. At least, we think they were joking.

The delegation presented a show of their various large-scale existing projects in Cambodia, Brazil, and other countries.
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Comments

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The light-rail airport-Phuket City link should go to Rawai as that road north-south is the transportation spine of Phuket with metered taxi waiting customers at each station to lift them to beaches.

I do not believe in that project as most air travelers are tourists going to all beaches on the west side of Phuket, and I do not see tourists after a 12-15 hour journey by plane carrying heavy luggage for a long rail ride instead of grabbing a taxi to go to any beaches on west side; personally, I would grab a taxi.

Posted by Whistle-Blower on August 30, 2010 09:38

Editor Comment:

All suggestions are still in play at this stage. Perhaps the Rawai light rail link could have a branch track going up to the Bid Buddha? Then the cable car to Patong could float tourists down the other side of the hill. You're certainly right about the need for a direct link to the west coast.

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Good to see the progressive Khun Methee still trying to drag Phuket into the 21st Century. I thought he had given up. Please keep at it kind Sir!! Phuket needs you and your kind.

Posted by helen on August 30, 2010 11:39

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Loved your joke about Rawai-Big Buddha-Patong, Editor! Great idea!
Seriously: How many people use the airport-bus to Phuket City and vice versa? Hardly anyone...
The same amount of passengers for the light rail-link I suppose...

Posted by Herbert on August 30, 2010 11:44

Editor Comment:

Hmmm . . . the need is for efficient, low-cost public transport for people commuting to work and school as well. An effective light-rail system would reduce the need for school seung taews and resort buses. Get the main route right, and gridlock on Phuket's roads can be staved off a little longer.

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I'm curious as to why some people always knock LRT systems. The ones in KL, Singapore and Hong Kong seem to function OK without people whinging about having to lug bags. Bangkok Airport one is now open and seemed pretty popular the other day. Some will always prefer taxis, others move with the times. Travel light, buy stuff here and support the local economy. The reason the bus link is a failure is that it goes to Phuket City, NOT Patong but at least this way it doesn't have to run the gauntlet of Sangsom Cocktail wielding limo drivers

Posted by Mister Ree on August 30, 2010 19:08

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I'd love to see a light rail system on Phuket. Fast, efficient and modern. But it's a long-term solution and a partial solution.

You could hazard a guess that the one link from the airport to Phuket City will take a minimum of five years to construct. And without a proper island-wide public transport system, tourists will arrive at Phuket City and have to get...a taxi or a tuk tuk to their hotel in Karon, Kamala, Patong, Nai Harn etc. In other words, much the same result for visitors as if you'd never built the link except the Thai government is a few billion baht lighter.

Look, I'm not dissing the idea of a light rail system in the slightest. Plan it well, make sure that it's priced and marketed correctly etc. It's necessary if Phuket isn't to become a tourist backwater in the future.

But an integrated island-wide bus and coach system to every nook and cranny of the island should be the priority. Not in five or ten years, but in one.

Posted by Doug on August 31, 2010 07:04


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